Political forces react to Tahrir violent repression, call for govt of national salvation

Zeinab El Gundy, Monday 21 Nov 2011

Post-revolution political forces decry brutal violence against protesters, but few appear ready to give up on next week's pivotal parliamentary polls

Tahrir Nov. 21
Tahrir Square on Monday night, a scene starkly reminiscent of last January's 18-day uprising (Photo: Reuters)

Several political parties and movements have officially condemned recent escalations of violence police and military repression in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, with a number suspending their parliamentary electoral campaigns.

At a meeting held at the headquarters of the Ghad El-Thawra Party in Downtown Cairo, representatives from liberal, Islamist and leftist parties met to discuss the latest round of violence. 

Participants issued a statement in which they apologised for not providing protesters with adequate political support and for failing to secure an immediate cessation of violence. They also demanded the formation of a national salvation government and the holding of presidential elections by 2012. They further called for the prosecution of Interior Minister Mansour El-Eissawy for his presumed role in the killing of protesters. 

Mohamed El-Baltagy, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), announced that, starting on Monday, several political powers planned to participate in the ongoing protests in and around the volatile square. In an MB statement on Monday, the group demanded that the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issue a detailed timetable for democratic transition and that the council hold presidential elections no later than April 2012. 

The MB’s Freedom and Justice Party also issued a statement on Monday blaming the SCAF for the recent violence. “The SCAF is fully responsible for what has happened in Tahrir Square,” the statement read, going on to demand the prosecution of all police officers involved in killing protesters. The party also insisted that the SCAF-appointed government apologise to the Egyptian people for alleged crimes committed by the interior ministry.

The Freedom and Justice Party went on to declare, however, that it had no plans to boycott parliamentary polls slated for next week.  

The Revolutionary Youth Coalition (RYC), for its part, issued a statement – along with 37 other political parties and groups – calling for a million-man protest in Tahrir Square on Tuesday to demand the dismissal of the Essam Sharaf government; the formation of a national salvation government; presidential elections by April 2012; and total reform of the interior ministry, including the dismantling of the Central Security Forces and accountability for those guilty of violence against protesters. 

The RYC has reportedly lost two of its members – Bahaa El-Sanoussy and Shahab El-Din Ahmed – in the recent clashes. 

The liberal-centrist Adl Party, meanwhile, will hold a meeting on Monday to discuss whether it will participate in Tuesday’s planned million-man protest. The party has already issued a statement calling on the SCAF to form a national salvation government mandated with executive authority until presidential elections can be held next year.

Regarding the looming polls, Adl Party co-founder Mustafa El-Naggar told Ahram Online that the party did not plan to boycott elections, opining that any delay of the parliamentary contest would be “catastrophic.” 

The liberal Wafd Party, for its part, issued its own statement demanding that the SCAF and the SCAF-appointed government end their “traditional solutions.” Condemning the excess use of violence by security forces, the party demanded that the SCAF comply with the democratic transition process and conduct parliamentary elections on schedule, to be followed by the election of a constituent assembly – mandated with drawing up a new constitution – to be followed in turn by presidential elections by September of next year. 

The liberal El-Masryoun El-Ahrar Party, meanwhile, issued a statement on Saturday urging all parties involved in the unfolding crisis to show restraint. 

The party has yet to announce its position vis-à-visthe upcoming elections, but some of its candidates have pledged to suspend their electoral campaigns, including Mahmoud Salem (Heliopolis), who told Ahram Online that he had suspended his campaigning activities since Saturday. Salem has since joined protesters in Tahrir Square.

The party’s candidates in Port Said, meanwhile, have also suspended their electoral campaigns to protest the heavy-handed security response to the ongoing protests.  

The Egyptian Social Democratic Party, for its part, in a statement issued on Monday, saluted protesters throughout Egypt, and seconded their stated demands. The party also called for the formation of a national salvation government and a clear timetable for democratic transition. 

Candidates from the liberal/leftist “Revolution Continues” coalition – including Gamila Ismail, Amr Hamzawy and Asamaa Mahfouz – have also reportedly suspended their electoral campaigns to protest ongoing violence against protesters.

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